Potomac Nationals earn series split in Myrtle Beach

potomac nationalsThe Potomac Nationals (22-18, 12-10) worked out a series split with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (27-15, 12-10) thanks to a 4-2 win in the series finale on Sunday at TicketReturn.com Field inside Pelicans Ballpark.

The Nationals are now (5-6) against their first place counterparts of the Southern Division in the 2014 season series.

Nationals RHP Blake Schwartz threw 20 pitches in the opening frame with 12 in the strike zone in his first start after being assigned to Potomac from Double-A Harrisburg Senators.

Schwartz was lifted after hanging a zero in favor of the eventual winning pitcher, LHP Matthew Spann (3-0).

Schwartz allowed a double to Pelicans 3B Joey Gallo and a walk to RF Royce Bolinger in the 1st before stranding both runners after SS Hanser Alberto flew out to center field.

Spann was very effective through 4.0 innings in which he allowed one earned run on four hits while walking a pair and fanning a quartet.

The Pelicans struck first in the 2nd inning with an RBI single drilled into center field by 1B Preston Beck.

The Nationals answered off the losing pitcher, LHP Luis Parra (4-2) in the 3rd. A bases loaded, run-scoring grounder off the bat of 1B Shawn Pleffner was tossed by Beck off the glove of Alberto as the Pelicans attempted to get the force out at second base. Pleffner garnered an RBI on the fielder’s choice ball and a error was charged allowing the trail runner, SS Stephen Perez to score and give the Nationals a 2-1 lead.

Perez tied the team high mark for hits in a 2014 contest going 4-for-5 at the plate with one run scored, one RBI, and two doubles.

Parra surrendered four runs, two earned, on eight hits in 7.0 innings.

The P-Nats added their third run in the 4th frame via an RBI two-bagger socked into the alleyway in right-center field by Perez to propel Potomac to a 3-1 advantage.

A leadoff double into the gap in left-center off the lumber of RF Estarlin Martinez in the 6th stanza was plated on a high arching RBI groundout from 2B Tony Renda that had Gallo leaping up in the air to knock down the baseball at third base.

Potomac RHP Travis Henke came out of the P-Nats bullpen and tossed 2.2 scoreless innings. An unearned run against Henke scored in the 8th when Gallo’s walk scored from first base on a single bulleted to right field by Bolinger plus an error given to Martinez for failing to knock down the low liner making it a 4-2 game.

Nationals closer, RHP Robert Benincasa (SV 7) inked his seventh save this season after capturing the final out of the 8th on a slow roller from Alberto.

Benincasa locked it down in the 9th to finish off the Pelicans and guarantee a (3-4) two-city road trip after the Nationals dropped two of three to the Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles) on the front leg of this bus journey.

Benincasa allowed a leadoff single to LF Chris Grayson before C Jorge Alfaro skied out to deep left field. Beck walked on four pitches to bring the winning run to the plate and then DH Zach Cone cranked a flyout to the gap in left-center. The hero from series Game Three, 2B Christopher Bostick, who nailed a game-winning double to the wall in the left-center field alleyway grounded a ball to Nationals 3B Khayyan Norfork who stepped on the third base bag for the final out of the game.

The Nationals are off day tomorrow before beginning a stretch of five games in three days versus the Lynchburg Hillcats (Atlanta Braves) at Pfitzner Stadium.

A de facto doubleheader on Tuesday, May 20th will be the completion of a suspended game from Monday, April 28th (scoreless game entering the top of the 2nd inning) before a backend seven-inning affair that will serve as the retroactive series finale from Tuesday, April 29th.

Wednesday, May 21st will serve as the first two matchups of the regularly scheduled series vs. Lynchburg that was slated to run from 5/20 to 5/22. A scheduled twin bill made up of a pair of seven-inning games beginning at 5:30 will lead to the series finale on Thursday, May 22nd set for 7:05pm.

The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network, which is accessible at www.potomacnationals.com, will broadcast the P-Nats’ pair of games with the Lynchburg Hillcats on Tuesday, May 20th. Broadcast coverage will begin with the P-Nats Leadoff Show at 5:15pm in preparation for 5:30pm first pitch for the completion of the suspended game from 4/28 before the seven-inning nightcap.

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